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Four Tips for Spring Pond Maintenance

written by
Jennifer Biancalana

This might seem hard to believe, but weeds and algae grow beneath the frozen surface of your water all winter long. By the time aquatic plants or algae blooms begin appearing in the spring, the ecological balance in your water may already be compromised and in need of a helping hand. The good news is, a little preventative work timed with the changing seasons will make a big difference in the overall appearance and water health of your community pond.

Spring Pond Maintenance Checklist

Across the Midwest, Mother Nature comes back to life in the spring. The ice thaws and the first budding plants begin to peek out of the ground. This is also when we can help our ponds get off to a good start. Here’s how:

  1. Start on the pond’s shoreline.

    Ask your landscapers to clean-up the shoreline and banks surrounding your pond. This includes removing down branches and cleaning up remaining leaves and trimmings from last fall. Ask them to avoid blowing grass clippings and other trimmings into your pond once they begin their weekly mowing and landscape service. Why? You do not want this organic matter in your water. It will decompose quickly, add unnecessary nutrient load, and will likely cause a quick algae bloom.

    A close-up of a littoral / shoreline plant along a pond.

  2. Move into the pond water.

    Apply the same clean-up logic to any dead branches, plants, or weeds that ended up in your pond over winter. This will help minimize the nutrient load in your water and reduce the risk of an early-season fish kill. Consider talking to your landscaper about what clean-up they may be able to help with from the shore, and also discuss how to best approach the work with your aquatic services provider.

  3. Check your fountain equipment.

    Many community ponds have a fountain or aeration system in place.  Sub-service aerators stay in your pond year-round, but fountain systems are removed and stored for the winter, and then re-installed each spring. Expect your aeration and fountain contractor to recommend and perform maintenance on these systems each spring to extend their useful life. Annual maintenance may include a full system check, changing filters, oil and seal changes, flushing air hoses, and balancing air stations for optimal output.Not only do aerators and fountains enhance the aesthetics of your pond, but they also play a major role in enhancing your overall water quality. The function of aeration is to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) in a water body. DO is one of the most, if not the most, important water quality parameters in a pond.  Having adequate DO levels aids in the rapid breakdown of decaying vegetation and other nutrients that enter a pond. The faster this organic matter can breakdown, the fewer nutrients are available to feed algae or plant growth.

  4. Start early with routine pond inspections.

    Because weeds and algae are able to grow year-round in water bodies, the sooner you can begin your seasonal pond management program, the better! Once weeds or algae are visible in your pond, you’re already playing defense. If you can initiate inspection and diagnostic visits with your aquatics services provider before there is visible plant or algae growth, you’re better positioned to maintain a high level of water quality and good aesthetics all season long.

A pond shoreline with plants and flowers.

Plus, your service provider should be monitoring your water body routinely all season, typically every two weeks, and adjusting their treatment methodologies to address what’s present and maintain balance. Many service providers only do visual inspections when they visit, but you may want to consider adding water quality testing throughout the season. This will provide the most science-based and actionable insights into what is growing in your water body, so diagnosis and treatment can be precise and accurate.   

A professional aquatic services company will follow through on these good management practices for your pond during peak season too.  Expect them to keep you up to speed with reports and updates on their observations, sampling and analysis work, and prescriptive treatments performed to manage your weed and algae growth.

Learn More About Pond Maintenance

Our experts at Clarke have years of experience working with a vast variety of lakes and communities, with a focus on catering to their unique needs and goals and an emphasis on using science-based techniques and technologies to do so. To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as:

This is an excerpt from an article featured in the Spring 2020 issue of COMMON Interest®, a publication of the CAI-Illinois Chapter.  See a copy of the full article here.